Last week I lost 2 clients. That may seem insignificant to someone who has 40 or 50 clients – or more – but for me, it’s a sizable portion of my income.

The first person told me he doesn’t have time to dedicate to the work I’m doing. No doubt it’s true – he runs a thriving business that involves a great deal of travel. He even said that “when things settle down” he’d like to talk again.

The second person is a long-time client who has just decided to do something entirely different with her business. She is making a great decision and will still give me referrals in the future. She has been one of my best clients ever, and I will miss her.

When you lose clients, you have a few choices. You can hide in bed and read the really thick novel you bought to distract yourself from worrying too much. You can give up completely and start looking for a “real” job. You can start marketing your tail off and praying that someone hires you. You can fall into a horrible depression that cripples every interaction you have with other people. You can make lists of places to look to replace the lost business. You can look for services to add to your current offering.

No matter why you lose business – a crappy economy, a move, a shift in technology, whatever – it feels personal. It can be tough to turn off your sensitivity and remember that owning a business means you are going to deal with rejection, ups and downs and even outright failure. It’s not a matter of if you will face hard times or not, it’s a matter of how long they will last when you do.

Hindsight being 20/20 and all that, I see now that I should have been less worried about being spread too thin. I should have been looking for new clients all the time and outsourced some work if it came to that. Right now, though, I don’t have time to beat myself up over what I should have done. Right now, I need to create a calling list, leave some comments on blog posts, update my samples page, schedule a couple of networking events, order some business cards, write an ad for craigslist…

What about you? What do you do when your business takes a sudden and  unexpected nose dive? How you avoid feeling like your world is crashing? Do you immediately pick yourself up and get busy beating the bushes or do you give yourself a day or two to worry?

P.S. If you know a small business owner who could really use some help with building and executing a marketing strategy or who would like to send out a newsletter or who wants to get started using social media for business purposes, please, send them my way – I have a couple of openings :)

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